Space transport services company SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Sunday, March 1, to place the first ever all-electric communications satellites into orbit.
The two communications satellites were built by Boeing and owned by Bermuda-based ABS and Paris-based Eutelsat Communications, which shared the manufacturing and launching costs of the satellites in a business arrangement prompted by technological innovation.
The pair of satellites was designed to deliver video, internet, data and mobile services worldwide and equipped with all-electric and lightweight engines instead of the chemical propulsion systems that are used conventionally.
Because the satellites run entirely on electric instead of fuel, they are cheaper and lighter to transport making it possible to launch them in a medium sized Falcon 9 rocket.
Fuel takes up 50 percent of the weight of most communications satellites which is traditionally a liquid propellant being carried for in-space maneuvers. Boeing's innovation allows operators of satellites to order smaller spacecraft that can host additional communications capacity in order to replace the mass that is being free up by the removal of the fuel tanks.